Don’t be daunted by that diva de­meanour – Fri­day’s very own chef Sil­vena Rowe is happy to an­swer all your kitchen queries

Friday - - Food Special -

Q Please share your favourite veg­e­tar­ian recipe. I need some in­spi­ra­tion as I have only about five recipes in my reper­toire.

A Po­lenta with cavolo nero and Gor­gonzola dolce cream sauce is one of my favourite veg­e­tar­ian meals. I ate it for the first time in a fa­mous Ital­ian restau­rant in Lon­don and loved it so much that I pestered the chef to share the recipe with me. I hope you en­joy it as well. 100g Gor­gonzola dolce 50ml dou­ble cream 450g fresh cavolo nero (a leafy veg­etable sim­i­lar to spinach and cab­bage but with a stronger taste), washed and cut into small pieces 2 cloves gar­lic, sliced finely olive oil, for fry­ing 350ml wa­ter or veg­etable stock 100g dry in­stant po­lenta knob of but­ter 25g Parme­san cheese shav­ings

To pre­pare the Gor­gonzola dolce sauce, melt the cheese in a small pan, but be care­ful it doesn’t reach boil­ing point. Add the cream and keep warm.

Blanch the cavolo nero in some boil­ing wa­ter un­til soft, then drain well.

Soften the gar­lic in a lit­tle olive oil in a large pan, then add cavolo nero and cook for about three min­utes.

Drain and purée the cavolo nero and keep warm.

To pre­pare the po­lenta, bring the wa­ter or stock to a boil. Add the po­lenta and re­duce heat to low, stir­ring con­stantly, the po­lenta will thicken while cook­ing.

Be­cause you are us­ing in­stant po­lenta, the cook­ing process is very quick – about three to four min­utes. Add some but­ter and sea­son well.

While the po­lenta is still hot, add the cavolo nero purée. Serve while hot af­ter driz­zling Gor­gonzola dolce sauce on top and adding some Parme­san shav­ings.

Note: The con­sis­tency of the po­lenta should be pourable. If you find that it is too thick, add some more hot wa­ter while it is cook­ing to thin it out.

Keep­ing the skin on, mar­i­nat­ing and poach­ing are key to keep­ing a chicken juicy on the grill

Q How can I make grilled chicken like they do at my favourite fast-food chain? When­ever I try I al­ways end up with a dry bird that’s al­most ined­i­ble.

A Here are two fool­proof meth­ods that will guar­an­tee you suc­cu­lent chicken ev­ery time. I never eat at fast-food joints and you might find when you try these out at home, you won’t ei­ther.

I’d like to stress the im­por­tance of choos­ing a good-qual­ity fresh chicken, prefer­ably free range or corn fed, as the meat will be much softer and juicier than the frozen or other va­ri­eties.

My first method is to poach the chicken be­fore grilling. Be sure to keep the skin on and poach it in a lit­tle wa­ter un­til slightly ten­der, then sea­son with salt and pep­per and place it un­der a hot grill or on a bar­be­cue.

Poach­ing locks in the juices and the meat re­mains suc­cu­lent. Make sure you don’t over-grill the chicken as that can dry it out.

To know if the chicken is done, prick it at the thigh and if the juices come out clear, it means it is cooked. Let it rest for about five min­utes to al­low the juices to set­tle in be­fore serv­ing.

The other method is to mar­i­nate the chicken be­fore grilling. Be sure to keep the skin on while mar­i­nat­ing and grilling, even if you re­move it when you are done.

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